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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gear Comparison & Review: Hydration Belts

I'm at the point in my training where I need my water with me while I run. Up until now, I've just been stopping by my car or my house to refuel during my long runs. But when the runs get to be over the 10 mile mark, I don't want to run in circles just so I can get to my water. Boooooring. I prefer an out and back long run.
So a couple of weeks ago, I tore my house apart looking for my trusty Fuel Belt. Never did find the damn thing so I knew I needed to take a little trip to my favorite running store, Fleet Feet. I got there with the intention of buying one just like my old one, but as I stood there in front of the hydration belts, I realized that I had many new options to chose from. So I did a quick pros and cons list of the Fuel Belt.

Fuel Belt: I looked on their website to find that they don't even make the kind that I have anymore so I couldn't get a better picture. But you can see it here, without the bottle. It has just one water bottle and one small bottle for a recovery mix. It also has a big zipper pouch behind the bottles.

Here's my breakdown:


-Big water bottle means water doesn't get warm so quickly

-Huge zipper pouch means I can carry all my junk-key, pepper spray, Gu, chapstick, cellphone


-One big bottle means that the weight is not evenly distributed around my waist.

-Uneven distribution equals bouncing! bouncing! bouncing! and frequent readjustments and all that friction leaves my skin skin raw and sore (that could be 3 cons)

-I don't use the small bottle for anything, so that's wasted space

On to the new belt. With the help of my new friend Eric over at Fleet Feet, I chose the Amphipod RunLite 4 Hydration Belt.

As you can see, the design is very different. It has 4 bottles and one small pouch.


-4 bottles mean a more even weight distribution

-The belt is totally adjustable in so many ways. The bottles can move around the belt, come off the belt or lay sideways on the belt. They can even slide off and on, if you prefer fewer or more bottles

-You can also add additional or larger pouches, if more space is needed


-The water does get warm pretty quickly

-While the idea of the snap-back-into-place bottles seems great, I could never really get the hang of it. At least half a dozen times, when I thought they had clicked into place, they wound up dropping to the ground.

And that's it. Although I've only used the Amphipod belt once, it is the clear winner. Comfort wins, hands down. It's also convenient and adjustable to meet my needs. Now I just have to remember to freeze my water bottles and practice that clicking motion!


Vandy-Montana said...

I suggest a Nathan handheld waterbottle. I used/still do run with a camelbak, but I feel that I don't run far enough (15+ miles in heat) to warrant the discomfort of the camelbak.

I got mine for something like 20 bucks from nathan, but they are cheaper and cooler at Cumberland Transit next time you are in Nashvegas.

lawmonkey13 said...

I've tried several different hydration options also. If going the fuel belt route, I agree that amphipod makes the most sense with the number of adjustable options. My problem is that I tend to wear my hydration belt low and the bounce tends to really bug me. I've also used a camelbak, which is okay once you get used to sloshing sound. My favorite options tend to be the handheld bottles. I've used Amphipod and Nathan. Both are good but the hand-tie is separate from the carry pouch on the Nathan making it seem less awkward on my hand.

stephen said...

Guys, you may want to check out if you are looking to keep your water cold while out on a run. It can be fitted snugly across your back or hand held while running. The straps grip your hand so there is no strain. Not out until late October

MrsCJ said...

I've never found a fuel belt I was happy with. I think I have about 4 now. Perhap amphipod's handheld? I've heard good things, but I just gave up on the whole idea and plan my routes accordingly.


Vandy-Montana said...

The last TrailRunner Magazine had a review of water bottles, hydration belts, and water packs. FYI

April said...

Yeah, I thought about the handhelds, but I hate carrying anything. Even if I did get used to it, theres the problem that I have nowhere to put all my junk. And I think camelbaks would be best for ultra running.

April said...

p.s. vandy...finally a comment from you on one of my posts! :)

Amy said...

Ok, so I have a 4 bottle belt and I like it pretty well... the water does get warm way fast, though.

I gotta say though... I always HATED carrying water with me... but last week, I ended up carrying a small bottle during a run and I actually didn't mind it. I think I'm going to pick up one of those handheld bottles, myself.

Spike said...

doesn't it feel like, when you are picking out a fuel belt, that you are always choosing between the lesser to two evils?

Don said...

I've been looking at the Camelbak waist belt that has two big bike type water bottles in a V shape across the back. Does anyone have experience with those?

Danielle said...

Does it ride up? That's always been my problem with these things! I swear they are like around my boobs by the time I finish running.

Source Outdoor said...

I love your hydration belt. I want one, but I just carry my water as i do short runs still. I don’t know how you wear it though. Also I tried a camelback and didn’t like the taste of the water or the faffing about or the looks like pretty urgent need to clean it, plus the hydration belt looks like a brilliant answer to a lot of problems.